Mercury scare in Morwell and Traralgon eased

FIRE FIGHTERS involved in last week’s mercury scare can so far breathe a sigh of relief after further testing of equipment has shown negative results.

Teams from the Morwell and Traralgon fire brigades responded to a mercury spill in May, after which a sample of protective clothing returned with positive mercury contamination.

Four trucks from each station were immediately taken offline, an industrial hygienist brought in and affected members invited to undergo a medical screening.

Country Fire Authority southeast regional commander Bryan Russell said all fire trucks from Traralgon would return to use, while the hygienist would complete testing in Morwell today.

“We will still be doing medical screenings with our fire fighters to make sure everyone is alright,” Mr Russell said.

“We’ll keep doing that.”


All re-tested protective clothing and equipment returned with a negative result, although one swab from the Traralgon fire station drying room has shown a low reading.

Mr Russell said further testing of that room would be completed to reassure the team everything was safe.

“Again, our fire-fighter safety has been our number one priority,” Mr Russell said.

“We have implemented some precautionary measures to ensure the wellbeing of our fire fighters and the community.

“The test results have come back and they have indicated no health concern – we will now put everything back in service.”

The two trucks from Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs should return to their stations this week after the laboratory results of Morwell’s equipment return.

United Firefighters Union national secretary Peter Marshall said although the incident should never have occurred, he was satisfied with the CFA’s response.

“I mean there is still more testing to be done, but so far the results have shown they are under the acceptable safe working standards,” Mr Marshall said.

“But we still want ongoing testing of the personnel just to make sure, because there may be a difference between the initial exposure and that in which we are seeing now.

“And given the nature of our industry, we need to make sure that everything is done that can be done to protect the fire fighters’ health.”